How to Listen to Your Intuition Even When You’re too Busy to Hear

listen to your intuition

The only real valuable thing is intuition.” – Albert Einstein

I wrote an article for The Change Blog titled, “5 Ways to Discover and Nurture Your Intuitive Voice,” where I told the story of how I quit a lousy job and took six months off from work to travel, and in the process found my intuitive voice.

A woman named Judy posted a comment in response that stuck with me.

Judy wrote that my article made her somewhat jealous. She was a mother of two in her 40s who didn’t have the luxury of going on an eat-pray-love trip around the world to find herself, nor did she feel as though she was in a position to take serious risks due to her family responsibilities.

Well, Judy, I got one thing to say to you: “Great point.”

My article was shortsighted with regard to those who have substantial responsibilities (such as raising children). So, I’ve written this follow-on post with 5 additional tips on how to listen to your intuition even when your plate is so full the food is falling off.

First, I’d like to underscore that even though I learned some valuable life lessons on my eat-pray-love trip around the world, it was no vacation.

I would sit at quaint outdoor cafés in Madrid sipping café con leche with the resplendent sun overhead while wallowing in guilt and anxiety because I wasn’t doing something more constructive with my time.

I had taken six months off work to travel because I wanted to escape a miserable job, but sadly, the discontent followed me to each and every outdoor café I visited. I realized too late that I didn’t want to stop working, I wanted to stop doing work I didn’t love to do.

The truth is I enjoy working. And if I travel, I want to feel as though I earned it.

If you’re an especially busy person with massive responsibilities, you probably can’t attempt to escape your problems as I did. But you must resist getting so busy with daily life and caring for others that you neglect your own needs.

Let’s return to Judy’s comment. Her final sentence was: “[Despite my reservations] I will try your steps and see if I can somehow improve my situation in less drastic ways.”

That was beautifully said. Listening to your intuition can include everything from eating more vegetables to quitting your job.

If you’re unclear what I mean by intuition, I’ll offer a few definitions. The more science-minded will prefer Dr. Helen Fisher’s take that your intuition is a form of unconscious reasoning that is rooted in the way your brain collects and stores information.

A more spiritual definition offered by Deepak Chopra is that intuition is intelligence beyond the rational mind that gathers information from universal intelligence.

However you define it, your intuition is your internal guidance system, living your life with you, and knowing exactly how busy you are, your level of risk aversion, and the balance of your checking account.

In short, your intuition will never guide you to a place that is outside the parameters of your comfort zone.

It will, however, push you to the limits, especially if there is a fear you need to confront before you can move on.

I encourage you to read the 5 steps I offered in my previous post, and below are 5 more written for those of you who are particularly busy or are responsible for the care of others or both.

1. Find at least 5 quiet minutes per day only for you.

Most of us can find 5 minutes in our day, which often leads to the 15-20+ minutes we really need to reflect on where we’re at and where we want to go. Intuitive insight often arrives in the pure clarity of silence.

2. Talk to your intuition.

Ask your intuition the questions that are most on your mind – big and small. If an answer doesn’t arrive immediately, look for signs in the coming days. For example, if asking whether you should go back to school, and a university flyer arrives in the mail the next day, followed by news that your Great Uncle Fred passed away and left you enough money to cover the tuition – then I’d say that’s your intuition talking.

3. Treat your big life changes as a creative process.

Making big, sudden life changes can seem daunting when you have a lot of responsibilities. That’s why it’s better to treat these changes as a fluid creative process that happens over months, years, or even decades. Spending time with your intuitive voice each day will provide slow clarity over time and offer manageable action steps to advance your goals.

4. Write and REVIEW.

Find a special notebook to record intuitive insight and make sure to review what you wrote the previous day or days. We humans need constant reminding if we’re trying to make changes to our life or daily routine.

5. Include action items on your to-do list…and do it!

If we don’t take the actions necessary to change our life for the better, nothing will change – no matter how much clarity we have. When your intuition guides you to take an action, write it down in a place where you’ll remember to do it. If you have a daily planner or sticky notes on the refrigerator, put it all together. For example: buy toothpaste, pick-up dry cleaning, buy new easel and paint brushes, spend 15 minutes painting today, etc

Remember, all big changes are comprised of several small actions. Vow to start taking small, intuitive actions today to align yourself closer to your passions.

Judy, this post is dedicated to you and others like you who have big responsibilities but are ready to reach for your highest goals.

I’d love to know what you think. How do you carve out quiet time in your day for you? Has your intuition ever given you a small action that has had a big impact on your life?

Photo by Daniel Lee

48 thoughts on “How to Listen to Your Intuition Even When You’re too Busy to Hear”

  1. I’ve been listening to my intuition a lot this year. I experienced a big change at work right at the beginning of the year that seemed like it was a negative. After listening to my intuition though I now see it as an opportunity to pursue other interests that I had let fall by the wayside. Had I not listened I would probably still be feeling down and unsure of myself. Sometimes intuition speaks up when you least expect it.

    1. Great comment, Carissa. I’ve had the exact same experience with my intuition too. It can lead you down a seemingly dark path, but as you suggest, if you keep with it you’ll find the light at the end.

  2. Thank you for posting this follow-up, I felt similar to the mentioned mother’s response. I appreciate the time and thought you put in to helping others like myself find different ways to improve.
    Intuition is something I think about often also, being in tune with our minds and body can change our lifestyle in a positive way. Great read.

  3. I am also a mother of two children (young children) and I am in my 40s. I have clear goals that my intuition reminds me would make me happier every single day. — The common thread to all my goals that are guided by my intuition is flexibility with my time, a more relaxed lifestyle, and more time for outdoor activities. My husband and I live on the east coast and feel that our lives are the proverbial hustle and bustle, leaving us with little free time to do what we enjoy or, if we have it, we’re too exhausted to take advantage of it, which, in turns, leads to guilt about not following our intuition and taking advantage of the time when it finally comes. We also both work full time in an office, which, for a biologist at least, just isn’t fulfilling. Yes, my job is important and I help restore severely damaged habitat so that the precious lifeforms that we share our planet with have a home too. My husband and I have a home, a retirement savings, etc. etc., but our kids remind us all the time that the life we live is ‘unnatural’ (without using that word). A typical American middle class lifestyle today is so contrived and complicated with all sorts of strings attached that it feels impossible sometimes when you’re trying to follow your intuition and ensure a future for your kids. I’ve tried many times to unravel this complication, telling myself to identify all that is really important to me for myself and for my family, and then identify steps to get there. Ideally, I would like to solve this problem (or problems) before my kids go to college! Preferably now, while they’re still young and in their most precious years of development — childhood. Goal 1: Go back to university teaching to allow a more flexibility with my time–more time with kids and for travel (finish that PhD you eternal ABD!); Goal 2: Move my family from the east coast to a community/society that aligns better with our values (and yes we have a list of what those are)–involves selling our house, a daunting process for someone working full time with two young children; Goal 3: Think entrepreneurial — we can earn money while having a flexible lifestyle — yes, it’s hard work too, but we are in control, not our ‘bosses’ at work and we get to make our own decisions (and yes, live with the consequences for better or for worse… In short, my intuition tells me all these things. I’m listening, I’m listing. I know what, I still don’t know how, and, being in my 40s and wanting to make a change soon while my children are young, is very frustrating. In all the reading and searching my husband and I do, we find all kinds of advice on ‘what’ but now ‘how’ — at least not for family life. The reality is we do have to be able to afford it. We’re willing to take risk, but, let’s face it, with a family, you do have to have some degree of financial security, even if you’re willing to accept less security as the average person.

    1. Wow, Amy. Thank you SO much for this thought provoking comment. I think you have summarized the challenge that so many people face. I encourage you to ask your intuition how to move forward. Write the question,”How?” on a piece of paper or special notebook and see what answers or signs you get back. It sounds like you have the right goals – as you say, you know the what. Now I encourage you to take consistent, inspired action towards achieving your goals. I know it can feel daunting or scary when you have a lot of responsibilities, but don’t give counsel to your fears. Just trust the voice of your higher self, and allow it to decide how you should move forward. The work you’re doing is important and it is making a difference, but if you don’t feel as if it’s your true calling, then there is a higher work out there for you. Be patient and gentle with yourself…if you stay with it, the changes you want will come….

  4. Intuition is crucial to personal development and meaningful change in lives. All of your suggestions will help align people to their purpose. Your fifth suggestion on today’s list is powerful.

    Insight from intuition is important in its own right. Self-knowledge allows us to see the bigger picture in our lives. You can improve the quality of your life by simply understanding that your perceptions can be troubling you instead of whatever events are happening around you.

    Acting on your intuitions means that you make your life yours. You cannot control everything around you, nor should you want to. Listening and acting on your intuition engages you in your life.

    Listening and acting on your intuition brings you your life.

  5. When I read, “In short, your intuition will never guide you to a place that is outside the parameters of your comfort zone.” I thought, NOT AT FIRST! Whenever my intuition tells me something BIG, it scares me to death in beginning. Time takes care of it, but if frightens me again and again on the biggies. Great post, Allyson. Thanks.

    1. Fabulous comment, Marcy. That’s the amazing thing about the intuition, sometimes it may feel like it’s guiding you outside of your comfort zone – because it’s nudging you to make a huge change or confront a big fear – but it never crosses the line. As you say, time takes care of it and it’s about giving into the fear. Thanks for the comment.

  6. Wow, great article! I recently took a voluntary separation package from my job. There are days that I regret giving up the security but I felt I was giving up a lot by staying in a job I didn’t love. My intuition nudged me to do it but now I still gets pangs of “did I do the right thing” How do you trust in your intuition and only look forward and not back?

    1. Hi Ginelle, what a great question. You’re at the stage where the rubber meets the road – you’ve taken the leap of faith, and now the challenge is to NOT second guess yourself. The best way to avoid seconding guessing is to check in with your intuition every morning. Ask it what you need to do today to stay on the right path and advance your goals. Write those action items down and do what you can. If you don’t get everything done in a day, be kind to yourself, and decide what you need to do for tomorrow. If you take things day by day and take consistent inspired action, your new situation will start to feel more and more safe, and you will no longer feel the need for the safety blanket of your previous uninspiring job. Keep it up – I believe in you.

  7. I agree with this. My intuitive voice is always right if Istop and listen. Guided meditations and writing every day plus doing artwork helps a lot.

  8. Change doesn’t have to be big and dramatic – at least to start with. Tuning in to the real you even in small amounts and making small experimental changes can start to accumulate into bigger changes. Thanks for encouraging us to do a some little positive action however busy we are.

  9. “‘In short, your intuition will never guide you to a place that is outside the parameters of your comfort zone”‘. I think, real changes means not “‘ comfort”‘. Our expectations are sometimes too big, and the ways, too hard, and in such moments, the intuition can help to find the best choice , that match with your person.And this rule “”all big changes are comprised of several small actions”” is very realistic and can be applied every day, for smaller or bigger goals in life. Thanks.

    1. Great comment, Rodica. I think when you give in and truly follow your intuition, you get stretched to the outer limits of your comfort zone, which is uncomfortable! I agree that growth is uncomfortable, but the rewards at the end are delicious. I should have expanded a bit more on this. Thanks for enriching the discussion, xoxo.

  10. Thank you for reminding me to tune in…..I try to listen to my intuition on a regular basis…it has always been right! It’s scary taking a leap of faith if that’s what your intuition is calling you to do but for me….that has been the greatest reward! I have been able to finally let go of so much baggage I carried from past hurts, and finally moved on, went back to school….thank you again for putting things in perspective for me! Knowing myself has been and still is an interesting part of it!

    1. You’re most welcome, Mercy. Thanks for the encouraging comment. If you’re still in school now, best of luck to you. Letting go of baggage is not easy, but as you know, it can be done. Keep up the great work.

  11. This post reminded me of one of the rules from the book “the forty rules of love by Elif Shafak” East.west.south,or north makes little difference. No matter what your destination just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within you travel the whole wide world and beyond

  12. All your points are relevant to recognising and listening to your intuition, I particularly resonate with point 1 of this post, finding some quiet time just for me, I do this on a daily basis and it really does have an impact on listening to myself and it is amazing how many different ideas come into mind. A quiet mind can see and hear more than a busy mind.

    I make sure I do this everyday and have made it a part of my daily routine, the same as exercise, when you do this it becomes as routine as cooking dinner.

    I am sure that Judy will find some great value from this update.

    1. Hi Robert. I love how you compare finding quiet time for yourself with daily exercise. It’s the same thing! I try to spend some time with my intuition first thing in the morning. I’ve noticed that it also helps if I jot down any dreams I remember from the previous night. I often find important messages in there. Thanks so much!

  13. Excellent synopsis. No matter how busy we are if we do not take a few minutes a day to hear our inner voice we are in danger of losing our creative self!

  14. I am living a life where currently I am taking care of others so much so that I can’t remember the last time I dreamt. If I am not exhausted enough I am being pressured and pushed of what I am suppose to do and be,(Isn’t it curious that in the moment you are a bit different people tell you what you ought to be like and what you should like instead?)
    Anyway, my short question is, how on earth can I tell my own, true, intuiton from others?

    Thank you by the way, for the article.

    1. Hi Heather, you ask a great question. I mention this distinction between intuitive and ego voice in my previous post for the Change Blog:
      The main point is that your intuitive voice will put a positive spin on every situation and feel like a voice of unconditional love. It will feel like an inner coach, guiding you along the path you really want to be on. Your ego voice will feel more negative (and include the voices of the people around you) and will probably be self-critical or will put a lot of pressure on you. When the ego voice makes an appearance, just notice it and let it go. It’s natural and normal – we all have that voice inside us. And once you let it go, wait for your inner coach to return to guide you towards your greatest self. Thanks for the comment.

  15. Hi again! This is the Judy that made the comments that this 2nd blog is based on. I was quite shocked to see that you took the time to respond to my comments Allyson! And to the extent that you did. You got me on a very bad day, and I was amazed how being listened to made such a difference in my day. My 10 year old is having major sleep anxiety/insomnia/night-time panic attacks. I feel like a zombie because of the lack of sleep, and truthfully totally stopped listening to my intuition. I am so afraid to ‘spoil’ my children that I have forgotten that my main ‘job’ is to take care of them. My daughter’s health should be the priority, and I need to do what I feel is right for us as a family. I was also forgetting completely to take care of me!! Which helps no one in the end….so even in these sleep-deprived, stressful times, I have to listen very carefully to my intuitive voice, and maybe even more than I would normally!! It is very easy to lose yourself when you are a care-giver, and I am learning slowly to take care of myself as well.
    Thank you Allyson, and all the commenters! ShantiPax is a site I look forward to reading through….we could all use more peace in our lives.

    1. Judy! Great to hear from you!! Thank you for chiming in. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been going through a stressful period. Sleep is a precious commodity, so I empathize with how you feel for not having enough. You’re right in that you must not forget to take care of you – the caregiver – and that listening to your intuitive voice will help lighten the stress going forward. Thank you for your wisdom and for serving as such an inspiration. Xoxo.

  16. Great post Allyson, I love that you’re teaching not only how to listen to our intuition but also how to trust it.

    Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between the voice of intuition and the voice of the ego wanting to keep us safe.

    The criteria I use to distinguish the difference is to ask myself “How would this make me feel?” If the overall feeling is that of empowerment/inspiration/growth etc. (even if there’s a bit of trepidation about fear of failure or rejection), then I believe that’s the voice of intuition.

    However, if the feeling is one of shame/unworthiness/victimization etc. that’s probably the voice of the ego – the very voice that got me in the position of wanting change!

    The bottom line is that our intuition will always speak for expansion and increase. And by taking action and getting results that feel good, we then also have the experience of knowing we can trust our intuition.

    1. Great comment, Lorna. I wish I would have read this first before I responded to Heather above who was asking the difference. I love your answer and completely concur. Heather if you’re still reading, check out Lorna’s comment! Thanks, xoxo.

  17. Five minutes a day…oh, what five concentrated minutes of alternate reality can create! I know…because that’s how I created mine, mostly at 2:00 am.

    Great piece, Allyson!

  18. I’ve recently come to realize is that even reading a good book can be an exercise in creativity and change. I’ve read a few books which have inspired me to look at the way my organization communicates change within — and try to effect that process. It’s hard to stay grounded and focused on creating the change during the work day — when there are meetings, deadlines, presentations. I’m trying to practice mindfulness on my way to work in the morning, and let that vibration positively affect the outcome of my day. I’m letting my intuition guide me in deciding what meetings I want to attend, etc — and I’m finding that I’m feeling more creative as a result.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Thanks so much for the comment, Nitin. Practicing mindfulness on your way to work is a great practice. It’s also a great practice to allow your intuition to guide you through your work day – even on the smaller decision. It makes for an overall less stressful day. Thanks again! xxoo

  19. A really inspiring post Allyson, with some energised and positive feedback. I wanted to offer an idea about intuition that I’ve met along the way. It’s that each of us has a preferred ‘channel’ for receiving intuition – some of us (including me!) receive intuition as a clear ‘knowing’. Others get intuition as a clear ‘feeling’. Some people have a ‘vision’ or a fleeting visual insight into what it is that they next need to know, whilst others experience intuition in a more ‘audible’ way – not actually hearing voices I don’t think, more of a sense of the information arriving via an auditory channel. I think it’s useful to get to know which ‘method’ or process we use for intuitive insight. For me, being aware that the insight will come as a ‘knowing’ rather than, say, a ‘feeling’ is a way to be more alert to the intuitive process – I sort of ‘know where to look’. There’s also a sense, once intuition is received, that having arrived on the ‘usual channel’ this really is intuitive, rather than ‘background noise’. With every blessing to all who are sharing here, Richard

    1. What a great comment, Richard. Thank you. This is another blog post in itself. You’re 100% correct, and a hugely important aspect for people to be aware of. My intuition is more or less audible. I have an inner voice, which feels like an inner knowing, that guides me forward. But you’re correct in that the way we receive messages from our higher self or from universal intelligence is different for different people. Thanks again!

  20. What a wonderful post, Allyson! I love all of your tips, especially the one about “talking to your intuition” and writing things down. I even created an app for this!!! :-P

    I especially like asking questions, then seeing what pops up. I also tend to write things down so I can review it all later, which helps me make sense of things, plus develop more trust in my intuitive “hits”.

    As for fitting quiet time into each day to “tune in”, I have started doing this right before going to bed at night. Doing this helps make it more habitual, which helps me stay consistent.

    Great post, Allyson! Thank you!

  21. You’re most welcome, Michelle. Thanks for the comment. I love that you created an app. What a great tip. I love it when people find ways to use technology to help them tune in – not tune out. And the time right before you go to bed is a very powerful time and a great time to listen to your intuition. Xoxo

  22. Allyson–this is a great, inspiring post. It reminds me that coming into relationship with our intuition is a muscle we need to build. The relationship grows stronger by stretching our understanding of ourselves and the world, being open to change and learning to engage with it in regular, creative ways.

  23. Hi Allyson, this is very interesting. Intuition is the ability to understand something immediately, I truly agree to what you said ” all big changes are comprised of several small actions. Vow to start taking small, intuitive actions today to align yourself closer to your passions”, through this, we can continue pursuing our goals and in time will achieve success. Thanks for sharing this post.

  24. Like Judy, I dont have the luxury of travelling as I am so busy with work and family that is why this post is something refreshing to read. I like to take coffee breaks. Go to a cafe and spend some “me” time and reflect on my day, my decisions and I guess listen to my intuition. Thanks for sharing.

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